[Ads-l] thoughts on "stacking"/"packing"/"stocking" cards

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sun Aug 23 14:40:08 UTC 2015

If we allow that "a pair of cards" sometimes meant "a pack of cards" (cf. GB 1816 "The Pack of Cards is also continually by our older writers termed a Paire, or Pair of Cards," from Researches into the History of Playing Cards...), then the following House of Commons speech by Lord Bacon, 17 Feb. 1823 [Hansard]may be relevant:

So that, to speak plainly, the king had better call for a new pair of cards than play upon these if they be packed; and then for the people, it is my manner ever to look as well beyond a parliament as upon a parliament; and if they abroad shall think themselves betrayed by those that are their deputies and attorneys here, it is true we may bind them and conclude them, but it will be with such murmur and insatisfaction as I would be loth to see. These things might be dissembled, and so things left to bleed inwardly; but that is not the way to cure them and therefore I have searched the sore, in hope that you will endeavour the medicine."—Now, that which lord Bacon had discussed as a mere chimera, had actually come to pass. The cards were now packed; that House was packed. His hon. friend, the member for Shrewsbury, had shown, by the report from that committee, which had been instituted upon his motion, that there were 79 members of the House who held offices to the amount in value of 180,000l. per annum. These members might be called the court cards of the pack, and in all committees of supply there would be found the same cards.

Stephen Goranson

From: American Dialect Society ...on behalf of Ben Zimmer...
Sent: Sunday, August 23, 2015 9:50 AM
To: ...
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] thoughts on "stacking"/"packing"/"stocking" cards

On Sat, Aug 22, 2015 at 1:38 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> Historians seem split on whether Randolph said "stacked" or "packed."
> But if there is no reference to him saying "packed" before the 1906
> publication of Margaret Bayard Smith's correspondence, then I think
> it's quite plausible that "packed" was the historically accurate word,
> which got changed in 1906 to "stacked" due to an error (or intentional
> improvement?) in the transcribing and editing.

The second sentence above should of course read "But if there is no
reference to him saying 'stacked'..." (not "packed").


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